As more than one wise person said, “Reality is what persists even when you’re not thinking about it.”
The individual is a known quantity, except that we cannot know the individual without the group. To truly see ourselves as separate from others, we must interact with those others.
It is the group that seems to invert ideas. Freedom for the individual translated into a group becomes an insatiable demand for absence of standards, which in turn requires spineless obedience and synchronized conformity.
Others have noticed this tendency:
The insanity and self-destructiveness of so-called “normal” human beings and societies easily surpasses what the most “mentally ill” and “delusional” individual is capable of. – Chronicles of Dissention
There is truth to this. An isolated individual can be destructive, but a mass craze, trend, meme, fear or assumption can run a civilization into the ground and destroy all traces of its advancements.
Why is this?
The herd is an echo chamber. If an opinion is popular, the herd echoes it back and forth to its different parts, and then notions in the individual head replace reality itself.
Even more, as anyone can tell who has played the game “secret,” in which a secret is whispered on one side of the room and passed person to person to arrive in incoherent form on the other, herds have a tendency to distort information into whatever is convenient for the speaker. There is no obligation to truth or faithfulness!
But most of all perhaps is that the herd is external:
The explosion of social media, she believed, left hundreds of millions of users with connections that were more plentiful but also narrower and less satisfying, with intimacy losing out to efficiency. It was time, Losse thought, for people to renegotiate their relationships with technology. – The Washington Post
The person above wants to blame social networking for making people isolated. It’s a clever thought, but only a partial one.
What isolates people is social circumstances that force them to limit who they are. The herd becomes dominant, and demands certain standards so its members are not threatened, and then forces those in turn on all of its members.
For example, if the demand is for us all to be equal, we cannot speak about inequalities or even notice the obvious. The winners there are incompetents and dysfunctional types, who are now equal to super-efficient geniuses in the eyes of the herd.
Our society is insane because for the past 2,000 years or more we have been steadily moving more and more toward a society based in the individual, which immediately becomes a herd that replaces reality.
Individuals need to band together or other individuals might savage them. It’s civilized anarchy.
When you look at how much is dysfunctional, and how little is trustworthy, think on how paradoxical and yet logical it is that the herd might be more insane than the individual.